Vietnam Essential Travel Information

Vietnam Essential Travel Information

Milestones of Vietnam history from the very first stages to neo-modern wars and emerging as a new economy in area

Located in the heart of South East Asia, Vietnam has been endowed with diverse types of terrain, beautiful landscapes, famous historical sites and rich culture of ethnic minorities, which make it become one of the most attractive destinations in the world. Most travelers to Vietnam are always inspired from the country’s stunning natural beauty, from the green fields in the north, pristine beaches along the country, to the fascinating bustle and hustle of the Mekong Delta in the south.

Natural Facts and Figures

Location: Southeastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, Gulf of Tonkin, and South China Sea, alongside China, Laos, and Cambodia
Geographic Co-ordinates: 16 10 N, 107 50 E
Area: total: 331,210 sq km land: 310,070 sq km
Lowest point: South China Sea 0m 
Highest point: Fansipan Peak at 3,144m
Coastline: 3,444 km (excludes islands) see Vietnam beaches
Climate: tropical in south; monsoonal in north with hot, rainy season (May to September) and warm, dry season (October to March) more Vietnam climate

Facts About the Nation

Population: 91,000,000 (July 2012 est.)
Capital: Hanoi (Ha Noi)
Official Languages: Vietnamese (official), English (increasingly favored as a second language), some French, Chinese, and Khmer
Government: Communist state
Religion: Buddhist 9.3%, Catholic 6.7%, Hoa Hao 1.5%, Cao Dai 1.1%, Protestant 0.5%, Muslim 0.1%, none 80.8% (1999 census)
Flag: red field with a large yellow five-pointed star in the center
Voltage: 127V/ 220V - Frequency: 50HZ
Socket: Two-pin (ungrounded) plug. The best investment is a universal AC adapter, which will enable you to plug it in anywhere without frying the innards.
Mobile technology: GMS (SIM card based devices)
International Calling Code: +84 guide on making phone and emergency numbers
Timezone: UTC +7 hours

Office working hours

A normal working day in Vietnam starts from 7am 8.30am and finish between 4.30pm to 6pm, from Monday to Friday and until noon on Saturday, leave the afternoon (most) and Sunday off. Post offices keep open longer till 9pm.

Lunch is taken very seriously and virtually. People stops for lunch from noon till 1.30pm. Government workers tend to take longer breaks, so figure on getting nothing done between 11.30am and 2pm.

Banks open for transaction from 8.30am to 3.30pm and Saturday’s morning from 08.30 – 11.00AM.

Museums also open in the weekend for visitors but mostly close on Monday.

Temples and pagodas open every day, from around 5am to 06.00pm.

Local markets open at 05.30am and close at 07.00pm, except Night market (from Hang Dao Str. to Dong Xuan market – walking streets, in the evening of Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 8pm to 3am)

Super-markets (mini-marts) open from 09.00am to 9.30pm.

Most private shops, restaurants and street stalls stay open seven days a week, often until around 09.30pm – 10.30pm

Restaurant, café often opens from 09.00am – 09.30pm. Bars and night clubs generally open in the afternoon and to midnight (official closing time) but often stay till to 02.00 - 03.00 am (most)

National holidays

During these following time, most of Banks, Offices are closed. Especially in Tet holiday, the major restaurant, café, local markets, super markets and museums are closed too. Please check with us if you intend to travel during Tet holiday.


Post Office and Postal Services

Post Office ("Buu Dien" in Vietnamese) appears in every city, town, village and rural sub-district, opens from 6.30am to 9pm, including weekends and public holidays. International postal rates are similar to those in European countries.

Items mailed to international destinations: regular service takes a month, airmail service takes five to ten days, express-mail service (EMS) takes less than 5 days and everything is registered.

FedEx, DHL and UPS are reliable for small parcels or documents and available in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Receiving even a small package from abroad can cause a headache, and large ones will produce a migraine. If the parcel contains books, documents, video tapes, computer disks or dangerous goods, it’s possible that a lengthy inspection will be required, which could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

Internet access via Wire, Wireless and 3G

Today the Internet is widely available throughout towns and cities in Vietnam, including  dial-up (VNN1260 or VNN1269) and  ADSL (MEGA VNN). ADSL services are using in most hotels, guesthouses and cyber cafés while dial-up services can be used through telephone line.

Wi-Fi is mostly free in mid-range hotels, restaurants, café or shopping malls in main cities. In luxury hotels, Wi-Fi in public area such as lobby, business center is mostly free, however, in-room Wi-Fi can generate a rather “amazing” bill. Please ask receptionist carefully before using.

It’s easy to access internet with your mobile devices with 3G SIM card – that is as cheap as 75.000-100.000vnd (3.5 – 5$). You should register for 3G packages supplied by service providers otherwise your account can be run out of very quickly. There are 3 main providers in Vietnam: Vinaphone, Viettel and Mobiphone. The quality is slightly different. Know more about phone network

3G speed in Vietnam is good enough for web surfing, mail checking, facebook access but not for Video watching or downloading big files. There is no 4G technology yet.

Tipping and Donations

Tipping is not expected in Vietnam but it is enormously appreciated. You should consider tipping guides, drivers, and staffs at hotels or restaurants if they have done good jobs.
How much you should tip? It’s up to you and depended on the situation. A good guide normally receives US$5-10/passenger or more per day. A good driver gets US$3-5/passenger daily, bellman at hotels often get US$ 2-3$, cyclo drivers often get US$ 1-2.
It’s considered proper to make a small donation at the end of visit to a pagoda; most pagodas have contribution boxes for this purpose, the currency should be local one (see Vietnamese currency guide)



The above advice is meant to help you have a perfect trip to Vietnam. Do not be overly paranoid though. Generally, Vietnamese people are very appreciative if they see you trying to abide by the customs, and very forgiving if you get it wrong or forget. If you make the effort, you will be rewarded.

Vietnamese typical foods - enjoy our heaven of taste with delicious cuisine. Tips for enjoying street foods at very cheap prices
Air travel to, from and within Vietnam - a brief guide to travel by air
Visa and custom regulations to Vietnam - obtain Visa to Vietnam, Visa Exemption list and formalities checking in Vietnam

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